If you’re a regular reader looking for more insight on manufacturing excellence, leave now. If your search engine took you here and you’re wondering what manufacturing is, I encourage you to poke around and learn about a new world.
I just spent the weekend at my mother in-law’s in central Michigan while on the way to a business meeting further north. It’s nearly winter, and there are many small jobs she needs help with, such as raking wet soggy leaves before the final leaf pickup. Something us Californians don’t get to enjoy, unless you count the leaves falling off the cabernet vines after the fruit of the gods has been picked. The trip out from California was a mess, with cancelled flights and an unexpected overnighter in Chicago that I shared with thousands of other stranded travelers. Later this week I’m swinging back by her house to bring her back to California for a few weeks.
One of the small jobs, albeit not related to the change of seasons, was to figure out why the Tivo we bought her earlier this year is no longer recording some of her favorite shows. I poked around at the settings, looked at the season pass upcoming episode details, and was drawing a blank. New episodes of Desperate Housewives, Meerkat Manor, and other scintillating shows were not being recorded. Then I figured out why.
There were almost 30 saved episodes of Oprah and Dr. Phil.
She had saved them to watch later, and Tivo in it’s infinite wisdom had finally said "enough is enough!"… well, it simply ran out of disk space. I tried several options from reducing picture quality to deleting some programs she was no longer interested in, but nothing would free up enough space to let Tivo record "critical" programs while she was in California. There was only one solution…
We watched virtually non-stop Oprah and Dr. Phil episodes for almost two days.
(brief pause while everyone thinks about what that might be like, and sends me appropriate silent sympathy….)
There I sat, alone with my mother in-law (while my wife was jogging on a warm, sunny beach back home in California…), learning about Gayle’s search for the best pizza, child molesters, dysfunctional families, cheating husbands and the wives that still love them, and phone scams. I’m not a particularly big fan of TV, especially with a hectic work schedule and a couple book projects, although I do sneak in an episode of Battlestar Galactica and The Amazing Race every now and then. So watching Oprah and Dr. Phil was a little, well, you know…
But I was able to observe some interesting facts about the shows, and this is the one very small semblance of anything to do with manufacturing excellence. Let’s call it the "waste of talk TV." And I’m not talking about the waste of a good mind from watching such trash. I’m talking about how little real trash is actually talked about. Take this sequence of events from a typical (and I’ve earned the right to call it "typical") Dr. Phil show:
- introduce the new show: 2 minutes
- actually discuss the topic at hand: 3 minutes
- promo for "coming up next!": 1 minute
- advertisement: 2 minutes
- promo for tomorrow’s episode: 1 minute
- recap what happened before the advertisement: 1 minute
- actually discuss the topic at hand: 2-3 minutes
- promo for "coming up next!": 1 minute
- advertisement… etc etc
So… about 2 to 3 minutes of actual talk per 10 minutes of show time. This seems to get even shorter toward the end of the show, so it adds up to about 11 or so minutes of truly "new material" per hour episode. Regardless of the subject matter, this is truly a waste of brainpower, electrical power to run the TV, and the electromagnetic spectrum in general.
Will my analysis change anything? Probably not, although with this newfound knowledge I was able power-Tivo through several episodes in record time.
All I know is that I believe in karma. And therefore I’m going to be one very happy fellow some day.